nature, photography, summer, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: while-tailed eagle

 

Never before, I was able to capture one of these guys so close. They are at home around the Baltic Sea, along the North Sea, along the Norwegian coast, and in Iceland. You can also find some of them at some lakes here in Germany. While I was on Usedom for our vacation, I got the opportunity to go to a nature protection area near by. Despite that fact, I needed a really long lens. Unfortunately the sky was very cloudy that day.

White-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) are bigger than the American bald eagle, but smaller than the Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus), also known as Pacific sea eagle or white-shouldered eagle. The White-tailed eagle has a wingspan of up to 250cm. There’s a saying, when you have the impressing, there’s a room door flying above you, it’s a White-tailed eagle. They are really impressive.

Fortunately, the population is slowly growing again. During the 1970s DDT created huge problems for them. While eating dead animals poisoned by DDT or wit ha huge level or DDT in their bodies, the poison also in the eagles’ bodies enriched which caused a severe problem: the egg-shell became too thin, so the the eagles destroyed their own eggs while breeding them. During the 1980s, DDT got banned and the number of eagles raised again. Slowly, but steadily.

It’s so fascinating watching them passing by. Because of their size, it seems, they were quite slow. Most of the time, they are gliding. But, a a single flap of their wings speeds them massively up. Same is true, when they start using thermal up-streams. You can’t change your lens fast enough to capture them neither in the “elevator” nor on the “highway”.

For hours, 2 of them were sitting on high trees with no activity,  but too far away for an image. Even with 800mm attached to my APS-C body (resulting in 1200mm f5.6) would only give me a few dark dots somewhere in the trees.

 

Take care!

culture, landscape, leisure, meeting, nature, people, photography, review, summer, travel, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: I’m back ….

Last week I was on a short family vacation at the Northsea: me, my wife, and our grandson (5 3/4).

We were gifted with fantastic weather. Nicely warm and sunny days at the beach and on the many playgrounds the town set up over the years. We visited that town not for the first time. So, we were able to see the development. Especially my wife was there quite often when our kids were smaller. She went with only one at a time, while the others stayed home with me. Now, all of them are adults and traveling with their partners.

Being at the coast means having a good portion of wind around you all the time. During low tide, the beaches grow. When low tide is in the evening, you can have much space for flying a kite. We’ve chosen that way for the kite instead of going to the kiting ground because there are more pro-kiters and a small kid does not have the room he needs for his little kite.

Take care!

culture, landscape, meeting, nature, people, photography, summer, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: A sign of hope!?

Saturday before last, I was in our state capitol to see one of the results of the long-lasting drought, we’re suffering this year. The fourth year in a row. Many smaller rivers and creeks don’t haven’t water anymore. Lakes and ponds dry out or at least overheat and endangering the fishes that way.

That river is one of the big streams here in Europe and it’s used as a road for large barges. When I walked down the riverbank and came closer to one of the spur dikes (they are built to slow down the water) when I noticed this single sunflower, blooming on a part of the riverbed, although the image seems to show something different, because you can’t the exact location.

I’m taking this sunflower as a sign of hope. Hope for water will come back to this level. Hope, because there is still some water in the ground.

Take care!

culture, landscape, leisure, meeting, nature, people, photography, review, summer, travel, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: A day at the sea

12 years ago, my wife spent a week with our youngest at the north sea. Thanks to a very proposing weather forecast, I came up with the idea, to surprise them by making a day trip to visit them. So, I told the other two kids to prepare some breakfast suitable to be eaten on the road and get up that early to be able to be on the road at 6 a.m. What a surprise, when we arrived at noon. At that time, the motorway ended early and the remaining nearly 100 km had to be covered on regular country roads. Nowadays the highway reaches much closer to the coast and shortens the distance to only a little more than 3 hours.

After having dinner together, we headed back home and arrived at about 1:30 a.m. What a day!

Take care!

art, culture, leisure, meeting, nature, people, photography, review, street, summer, travel, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: Street Art Festival (pt. 2)

As proposed last week, I’m continuing with a few images taken in the schoolyard, which we stumbled upon accidentally.

I’m glad, we followed the sign leading us in the narrow street. Fortunately, the painting from the first image in the gallery below was visible from the place where we found the sign. So we went for having at least a brief look. At the end of the street, we found the schoolyard. Full of people (painters and their company), a DJ, lifting platforms, compressors, and a lot of ladders were here. The artists were working on their paintings or talk shopping. Some of them were already done while others even have not yet started.

 

Take care!

art, culture, leisure, meeting, nature, people, photography, review, street, summer, travel, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: Street Art Festival

Last Saturday, we finally met again: monthly photographers roundtable. After nearly one year without a common trip. The past 2,5 years were hard and now it has to become routine again. But, I won’t complain. Despite the overall situation, I was out quite often. And, to be honest, there were a few meetings without a camera, simply for having a talk or celebrating a birthday. But, I missed the regular common photography trips. They are often challenging because you have to leave your comfort zone and face unknown places as well as unknown photography topics. So, this time street photography and art photography from a nature and wildlife photographers perspective. Once started, you have to find your flow first and work on the perspective. Consider, what you want to show. Are you keen enough to photograph strangers? And don’t forget the legal regulation!

Although only 3 of us met in Geldern, a small town near the Dutch border. Each year (with interruptions – sic) on the last weekend of the state’s summer holiday they organize a Street Art festival. This year it was held for the 42nd time. I got notice last year from our newspaper but wasn’t aware of being a regular festival. Unfortunately, it was canceled on very short notice. So, I was very happy one of the other photographers had it on her list and was planning to go (even alone). So, my destination was also found and we would either have a meeting of 2 in Geldern and another one elsewhere with the others. but, it came out that only 4 of us were available that day because of vacations and one had to cancel with short notice. So, there were three of us in Geldern.

All of the painters created their pieces of art with colored chalk. In between, some street musicians presented their skills; fortunately, only very few booths offered drinks or food. I was quite surprised to see so many female artists painting. I guess, 80% of the painters were female as well as many of the solo musicians.

The festival starts on Saturday morning and lasts until Sunday noon. So, the species of art are not supposed to be ready on Saturday evening and you can view them creating their paintings. It’s really fascinating.

The only downside was, that some musicians were too close to each other while playing, although there was plenty of room. So, their music overlapped and it was not nice listening to that noise carpet.

On our way back to the cars, we discovered another interesting site by following a sign in the streets: a schoolyard was decorated by talented graffiti artists. But, I leave that for next week.

Take care!

autumn, fall, insect, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, seasons, spring, summer

Wordless Wednesday: hated but protected

Wasps are under nature protection, although humans usually hate them.

During summer, they invite themselves to our barbeques because they need meat to feed their larvae. In late summer and fall, they invite themselves to our coffee tables to get a porting of sweet cake, ice cream, or fruits. Although the larvae need meat, the adults feed themselves from pollens, honey, and overripe fruits. Thus, our cakes and especially plum cakes fit perfectly in their nutrition ☹️ and we have them around us each day with nice weather.

On hot days, they also come over to ponds, poodles, and bird baths to fetch some water for their larvae. These are leaves of water lilies in a pond. When there is a bit of water on such a leaf, they use it. If not, they have to stand on a leaf and drink directly from the pond’s water.

Soon, their breeding season is over. Then, the adults (all females) are unoccupied and roam around to find some sweet food and the humans are annoyed again.

Because of their importance to nature, they are protected. In case, you find a nest, you have to leave it alone. There are very high fines when a wasp nest is destroyed. In case, the nest is endangering humans, they can order a beekeeper to relocate the nest carefully.

Take care!

leisure, photography, seasons, summer, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: Shona-Art

 

A few days ago, I was scouting a location. When I arrived, I was welcomed by a number of stone sculptures, like the one above. In size, they ranged from about 1 meter small up to the gorilla above in nearly life-size. I was impressed by the material, the details, and the kind of craftsmanship.

All of the sculptures were made of only one single serpentine stone. One of the artists was working on one of the sculptures. He was working on the glossy black part of one sculpture with a paste  (similar to shoe polish)and a gas burner. Thus, I talked with him. Because black men are quite rarely seen here, I asked him about where he’s from and why he’s here. The answer was quite simple, he’s a member of a community of artists from Zimbabwe and in Germany on invitation for a couple of months to present their art. As I only saw those sculptures standing in the parking lot, he directed me to the inner part of the building, the atrium, where a lot more was presented and offered for sale. Pieces of art made of stone, driftwood, old and rusty metal, as well as from metal sheets were there.

According to a leaflet I got, the relationship lasts already for a number of years. In 1966 a former tobacco farmer who had serpentine stone on his land, founded an artists colony. While the artists initially only worked with serpentine stone, other kinds of art emerged. The artists keep their legacy, spiritualism, legends, and myths alive in their art. It is called Shona-Art after the predominant people living in Zimbabwe.

I was really impressed by their artistry and craftsmanship. I loved also their sculptures. Unfortunates, nearly all of them are too big to set them up at home.

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Take care!

leisure, photography, seasons, summer, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: Türelüre-Lißje

Maybe, you remember my post from Sunday, when I included a part of a sculpture I stumbled upon a few years ago in Aix-la-Chapelle during a day trip. I liked the artistry of the sculptor, and how he was able to model the mimics of the kids. Later at home, I tried to find out a bit more about it.

When spotting the fountain from a distance, you can see kids playing. While trying to find a good angle to take an image, I came closer and closer. When coming closer, I noticed the faces and wondered about the discrepancy between the face of the girl in the middle in comparison to the boys’ faces dancing around her.

The scenery consists of four kids. Three boys form a circle with their arms around a girl, apparently of the same age, crouching down in the middle. When looking at the very detailed modeled faces, you can see, that the boys are happy, mischievous, and showing some schadenfreude.

The name of this sculpture is “Türelüre-Lißje”. This is not German. It’s in an old local dialect relative to Lower German.

Lißje, or Lieschen is a belittling form of the woman’s name Lise (short from Elisabeth, sometime Gisela). The other part “Türelüre” is a kind of ring-a-ring-a-roses. When pronouncing this, it’s also a reference to the time, when the story happened: the time of the French occupation in the Rhineland (1794-1814)

 

You can see, in this image, that the nearly kid-sized figurines are part of a fountain and the water below the girl is also a reference to the background story. The girl was stopped by the mischievous boys and prevented from going to the toilet. They danced around her until it was too late.

 

This final image is in my option the essence of the scene: the girl is captured and in fear while the surrounding boys, although only one is visible in this frame, are blocking the viewer to come any closer and at the same time hindering the girl at least on two sides to escape. In addition, the boys are leaning towards the center and covering the girl even in this direction.

For me, it’s kind of a memorial and picturing the cruelty already available even in small kids.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Let men be noble, helpful and good”. It’s the first sentence of a hymn, he wrote in 1783. It’s a wish and a product of education. It’s not god-given. We have to work hard to respect each other and treat everyone equally.

 

These are the lyrics of one version of the old song (local dialect) handed down from the 19th century with my translation to German and English:

Türelüre-Lißje uus Klapperjaaß
Wovör hat dat Kengsche et Böksje esue naaß
Haue die Schelme va Jonge jeddooe
Haue dat Kengsche net pesse losse jooeh
Türelüre-Lißje uus Klapperjaaß
Dovör hat dat Kengsche et Böksje esue naaß

Türelüre-Lieschen aus der  Klappergasse
warum hat das Mädchen ihr Höschen naß?
Haben die Schelme von Jungs verursacht
Haben das Mädchen nicht pinkeln lassen
Türelüre-Lißje aus der Klappergasse
Darum hat das Mädchen ihr Höschen naß.

Türelüre-Lißje from Klappergasse
why did the girl wet her panties
the rascals of young boys have made things
didn’t let the girl pee
Türelüre-Lißje from Klappergasse
that’s why the girl wet her panties

Klappergasse (rattle alley) is the name of a small street in Aix-la-Chapelle. It’s said, a windmill once stood here. Maybe the girl used to live here because the lyrics says “Türelüre-Lißje from Klappergasse”.

We have a saying here in Germany:

Was Du nicht willst, was man Dir tue
das füge such keinem Anderen zu!

What you don’t want, what people do to you
don’t do that to anyone else!

Take care!

leisure, photography, seasons, summer, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: In between

 

For decades, a secured border parted two countries here on Usedom: the German Democratic Republic (since 1989 a substantial part of the Federal Republic of Germany) and Poland. While about 90% of Usedom kept German after WWII, approximately 10% belongs to Poland since 1945. Nowadays, you can roam freely from one side to the other and the wooded path, built in the former no-man’s land, leads you right to the shore of the Baltic sea.

All humans (and animals as well) are living together on this wonderful planet. Despite cultural differences, it’s great to roam freely and get used to these differences. All of us can benefit from knowing each other Even when it comes to misunderstandings sometimes, in general, all of us benefit.

Goods, habits, culture, and much more enrich our lives, our minds, our experiences, and our common ground for further growth as mankind. Help to keep the fences down between states, countries, and people! Or, to quote a song by the British rock band Pink Floyd “Turn down the walls”.

 

Take care!

leisure, photography, seasons, summer, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: On the beach

The sun is warm,
the sea is cold.
The surf rolls in
and wets your feet.
Collecting shells,
finding colorful stones,
watching the gulls passing by,
listening to the wind
carrying their cry.
Enjoy your life
before growing old!

 

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Take care!

animals, bird, flowers, landscape, leisure, nature, people, photography, review, seasons, sport, summer, travel, wildlife, world

Throwback Thursday: I’m back …

… from Usedom at the Baltic Sea. OK, I came already back on Saturday from my 2-weeks family vacation. Although it wasn’t a typical family vacation because I was on Usedom with my wife, daughter, and grant-son. That little guy is 5. So this was his first vacation where he was able to notice everything and he liked it a lot. One of his statements was “I like our new home more than our old home”. He didn’t realize, that the vacation home was our home only for our vacation.

Back in 2019, when we were in the Netherlands with him, he was too young to notice such a change. Back in 2018, I was already in Ahlbeck with my wife and we decided to come back with our grant son for his first beach vacation. Unfortunately, this come-back lasted longer than expected because of the SARS2-CoV / Covid19 pandemic.

This time we rented a vacation home near the middle of the town. Ahlbeck is quite small, with only about 3,400 regular citizens but with more than four times the number of guest beds. The apartment, we rented in 2018, was also very lovely, but reaching the beach from there was quite complicated because a huge rehab clinic building barriers the direct way and we had to make a long way around. Reaching the pier also lasted about 20 minutes by foot. You can see the pier in the image above from 2018. We love to walk along the surf in the evening, so we had to pull out the rental bikes first to reach the beach. Very inconvenient. That’s why we decided to get this time an apartment closer to the town and with easier access to the beach. It’s only about 200 meters as the bird flies and about 300 meters walk to reach the waterfront.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t perfect beach weather this time. Some drizzling nearly every day for at least some time distributed over the whole day. But, I won’t complain. We had some beach weather, we had cycling weather, we watched the neighboring towns as well as the next town in Poland, which is only about 4 km away. We also rented bikes for our stay and surprisingly the little guy was able to cope with the (quite small) distances on his bike. The longest distance we cycled in one day was 12 km with a couple of pauses. We cycled mostly along the sea on the promenade connecting the 3 neighboring towns grouped under the name Kaiserbäder. They have a lot of bicycle tracks here.

I love the area at the baltic sea for the small villages, the avenues with their chestnut or oak trees, and the forests reaching up to the coast. The sea does not have a noticeable tide (only about 10 cm), the huge beaches with very fine sand, and the flat-bottomed sea which is quite warm and less salty than the other oceans. So, these beaches are very entitled to kids, especially smaller ones.

The term Kaiserbäder (Kaiser = Emporer; bäder = baths) was chosen because these towns were visited by the Emporer of the German Empire back in the 19th century a couple of times. The word Bad (= bath) in a town’s name refers to the idea of being a place for curing and rehab. In the late 19th century, people had already come here to the coast for spending some leisure time, cure, and recuperate. Especially the rich ones and the noble men and women. Even the Emporers were here a couple of times and that’s the reason, why the towns have chosen the name Kaiserbäder to operate under that name. Nowadays, everyone can benefit from the beauty of the coast and retreat from the burdens of daily chores.

For one day (without having a certain date in my mind) it was planned to visit a nature protection area nearby (ok, 1 1/4 hours drive by car) to see White-tailed eagles (very good chance), osprey (maybe – a hope), grey cranes (quite good chance because they are quite common here but very shy), and red kites.

In the end, I saw 2 white-tailed eagles sitting in the trees far-far away and one flying from one side to the other (👍), one osprey (sitting very far away, then flying even further away, but also flying a bit closer to capture him), 5 cranes flying by, 1 stork, 1 crane with a chick in the woods (no photo possible), many grey herons and 3 great white egrets, common terns, lots of different ducks and geese, many swallows, black-headed gulls, cormorants. I’m stopping here to not bore you.

In the meantime, the others were visiting an adventure park in a town nearby very suitable for kids under 12.

For 4 days starting with Ascension Day, the German Masters in Kite-Surfing took place here right next to the pier. I watched the sportswomen and sportsmen for a few hours distributed over several days with my camera. You know, I like to see them “flying” over the water. This was an unexpected event and therefore not planned. But, very welcomed. Even the wind was unexpected those days: some competitions had to be canceled because of too heavy winds.

In the end, this was a family vacation and not a photo trip. Nevertheless, I’m quite happy about the images I was able to capture. The nature protection area has to stay on my list. I have to come again with more time and arrive earlier. Without the overcast sky, I’d have come back with less usable images because the light conditions would have resulted in either overexposed skies or in hopeless underexposed subjects.

As usual, click on an image to enlarge it!

Take care!

animals, bird, photography, seasons, summer, wildlife, world

Throwback Thursday: remembering last summer

European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) / Bienenfresser

 

These beautiful birds are coming quite late to middle Europe for growing their offspring. Early June is still mating time and by the end of August, they are already away to the south. They depend completely on the availability of big flying insects like bees, bumblebees, wasps, hornets, or dragonflies. Although they are native to Europe, they are quite new in more northern parts of i.e. Germany. They benefit from the warmer summers. Following the river the Danube in western direction from Romania to the Kaiserstuhl area in the south-western state of Baden-Würtemberg and then along the river Rhine to the north. For a couple of years, a tiny population is known west of Düsseldorf and another one near Porta-Westfalica next to the river Weser. A third well-known bigger population resides in the middle German state of Saxony-Anhalt.

Besides big flying insects, they need open steep slopes consisting of clay to dig their brood cavity. Such a brood cavity is usually 1-1,50 meters long and can be up to 2 meters long with a diameter of 5-7 cm. Suitable slopes can be found in some parts of some rivers or in man-made gravel pits. Surprisingly, the machines seem not to disturb the birds as long as no human shows up and enough insects are around. In addition, the slope must be big enough to offer space for more than one couple, because they live in (huge) colonies.

In Germany, bee-eaters are a protected species as it is red-listed as an endangered species.

Take care

 

 

photography, summer, travel

Throwback Thursday: I’m back …

… from Namibia!

While writing this, I’m sitting in Frankfurt waiting for my connection flight on my trip back home from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia in southern Africa.

During the last two weeks, I was exploring the south of Namibia. We were traveling the deserts, steppes, and savannas of Namibia between Windhoek in the North and Lüderitz in the South. Namibia changed my image of an African country. I was faced with a modern and clean country. Covid 19 incidence of 1.x (raising up to 2.3 by the end of our trip). I was very surprised, how serious the Namibian people are handling Covid: entering shops, restaurants, and other buildings only when wearing a nose-and-mouth-covering mask and in the entrance area of each shop a hand sanitizer was set up. In my opinion, this is a reason for the extremely low incidence rate in comparison with other countries

It was a very relaxed stay (roundtrip of about 3,000 km) to see the country and many animals besides the roads. Btw. roads: in the past, I experienced the Icelandic gravel roads and bad roads in Scotland. But in Namibia, the road quality is even worse. Most of the roads are not paved and even the paved ones are not as smooth as we know it from middle Europe. Instead, the gravel roads have a lot of bumps and potholes, and they are very dusty (dust devils can be spotted quite easily).

Despite these ‘problems’, it was a very nice trip, well organized, and equipped with a skilled local driver. This was his first job after nearly 2 years of sitting home unemployed because of the pandemic. So, I was experiencing again an empty country. But I’m feeling very sorry for the people depending on tourism. Without tourists, they can’t earn money to make their living.

My aim for this trip wasn’t to go on a safari. Instead, I wanted to see the deserts of Namibia: like Kalahari, Stone-Namib, Sand-Namib. End of November, the rain season is about to start. So, the country was already dried out. To stress this fact, we were even greeted by burning houses on the ground of the lodge of our first stay. In less than an hour, three 2-floor houses burned down completely. The trigger was a spark issued by a workman’s tool.

You might know, the land, now being Namibia, once was a German colony more than 100 years ago and then taken over by the British Empire followed by South Africa. In 1994 Namibia became independent from South Africa after the end of the South African apartheid regime. But there are still very strong connections to South Africa. Nevertheless, different than South Africa, they made a couple of good decisions: no condemnation of white farmers, picking English as the only official language instead of choosing one of the 11 local languages (plus Afrikaans and German). So, all people speak at least two languages: their mother tongue and English (sometimes in total 3 or 4).

I was meeting black people speaking German perfectly, what a surprise. I was happy to see, that the people connect Germany positively and they are proud of their country.

To name my favorites of the trip, I have to start with the animals we saw at the Lodges, in the National Parks, and besides the roads. I don’t want to bore you with a list. Next, I would name the dunes of Sossusvlei / Deathvlei where the dunes of very fine red sand can easily grow higher than 300 meters (about 1,000 feet), the Quiver tree forest (endemic plants relative to the Alow Vera), and the formerly forbidden zone near Lüderitz where the Diamonds were found with the ghost town Kolmanskop (Kolmanskuppe), a former German mining company town.

I’m very glad to have seen Oryx a couple of times, the signature animal of Namibia. They are well adapted to live and survive in these dry and scraggy landscapes. And they are beautiful. Here I have one for you, I met in Sossusvlei. I guess, this image itself is a symbol for Namibia: a lot of space to roam (only 2.3 million people living in a country of nearly 3 times the size of Germany, where we have more than 83 million people ), deserts are dominating the land, but there is still life (the green). We were in Deadvlei, a part of Sossusvlei in the early morning because the shuttle service stops at 3 p.m. because of the heat. Two weeks earlier, a Frenchman died here because of the heat. they found him the next morning terribly treated by the sun and looking like being a double of Freddy Krüger.

P.S. While you’re reading this, I’m already back at home for 3,5 days and I have to admit, I’m still freezing a lot. More than a 30°C difference in temperature between Namibia and Germany. I want the warmth back or alternatively back into the warmth. But, I guess, I have to dream about it ☹️. Instead, I’m in quarantine for 2 full weeks because I came back from a virus variant area. What the f**k. How can Namibia be a virus variant area, when there is nearly no-one infected. But I can’t change this, so I have to love and reschedule a few appointments.

Stay tuned and take care!

 

photography, summer, travel

Throwback Thursday: high-speed beauty!

white-tailed tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus) / Weißschwanz-Tropikvogel

 

I loved watching these birds flying fast above the coasts of Seychelles. I’ve had the impression, they really love and enjoy flying. It’s already 11 years 😲

Take care!